Telecanter was thinking about guilds a while back. Here's a magic-user guild I thought up between classes a while back:
The Order of the Green Hand is a well-respected and powerful order of magic-users. It runs dormitories in all cities and large towns and in most smaller towns. Each dormitory is equipped with a small library of spellbooks and components for copying spells. Regular circuits from dormitory to dormitory are made by Order personnel carrying any new spells that have been brought to a dormitory. In this way, each dormitory's library is constantly being updated with whatever spells are researched or discovered by Order members. The Order makes a practice of approaching fledgling magic-users just as they start out (that is, during character generation), when the powerful benefits they offer seem the most tempting, but also when profits the Order can expect to receive are the greatest.
Benefits of membership in the Order of the Green Hand:
- A free Staff of Magic Missile, with the maximum number of charges. (I use LotFP:WFRP rules for a lot of magic, so that's 49 charges in my game.)
- Magical immunity from mind-control spells cast by other members of the Order. (I'm still working out the mechanics, but this will be based on the Majestic Wilderlands' Shield of Magic.)
- Members are issued green robes.
- The Order is widely respected and letters of introduction can be drafted for any member.
- Contact can be made with the Assassin's Guild, which is allied with the Order.
- Order members may be issued magic items the Order owns at the Order's discretion. (Usually done only when sent on Order business)
- Free room and board at any Order dormitory.
- Free access to dormitory libraries, which include most standard spells.
- Free materials to copy spells into spellbooks and onto scrolls.
- Free access to dormitory laboratories, but not to components.
The last four benefits become available to members only after they have paid their first dues to the Order.
Costs of membership in the Order of the Green Hand:
- Members must pay dues to the Order. Dues are a percentage of the member's income equal to one divided by the character's level; at first level, members pay 1/1, or 100% of their income, at second level, members pay 1/2, or 50% of their income… at twentieth level, members pay 1/20 or 5% of their income, etc.
- Members must surrender all magic items they acquire to the Order. This requirement lasts only until a member reaches fourth level. They must make an effort to have a magic item as part of their share whenever a party acquires one or more magic items.
- Members must accept quests from Order leadership. (Rare. Should only occur once every two levels.)
- Members remain members for the duration of their lives. Contracts will be taken out with the Assassin's Guild on any member who deserts or is expelled from the Order.
- Members must copy all new spells they research or discover into spellbooks at an Order Dormitory. From there, copies will be brought to other dormitories and so the Order's library of spells will constantly grow.
- Members suspected of violating the terms of membership must accept magical surveillance attached to them to determine whether they are in fact violating the terms of membership.
- Members may not share magical knowledge with those outside the Order without the Order's explicit and specific permission.
- Members will slowly turn green. At second level, fingernails and toenails go green. At fourth level, hands are green. At sixth level, torso and hair are green. At eighth level, a member's whole body is green. At tenth level, any clothes worn or tools held turn green as long as they are in contact with the member. This effect is the result of using the Magic Shield mentioned above.
Players in my campaign, weirdly enough, tend to shy away from magic-users, sometimes complaining that they don't want to only have one spell a day or be so fragile at first level. I figured that a guild that gave them a wand of some sort would be pretty welcome, but I also figured that there would be a lot of costs to that kind of leg up at the beginning of a magic-user's career; fully charged magic staves are expensive and time-consuming! A guild that provided staves to new recruits would need a lot of income to pay for the higher-ranking Magic-Users that spent a good deal of their free time making those staves, hence the high membership fees and the requirement that members surrender all the magic items they find during their first three levels. It makes for a guild that really takes care of its members, but asks a whole lot from them as well. I think that guilds that are big parts of the PCs' lives should be pretty interesting.
Interestingly, the only PC the Order has approached so far was an elf, who, being chaotic, declined because her player felt that she was too interested in freedom to join. We'll see if any other players create magic-users anytime soon.